|Programs Started (Coach):||Pocono Mountain (Ed Watto)|
|LVL Eastern League Champion:||Wilson (6-0-1)|
|LVL Western League Champion:||William Allen (7-0)|
|District Champion:||William Allen (2 Champions, 2 Runners-up)|
|Regionals:||Northampton (2 Champions)|
Defending Eastern Division, District and unofficial state champion, Easton graduated two state champions, a state qualifier and six other starters. Coach John Maitaland’s squad returned district runnerup Ray Ferraro and two other starters for the ’62-’63 season. Bethlehem Liberty appeared to be the favorite as they returned three of their five district finalists, including champ Ron Szabo and runners-ups, Joe Kuhns and Dave Mucka along with four other starters. Wilson and Southern Lehigh hoped to challenge the top teams again as each returned some veteran starters including a district runner-up for each team, Joe Martino and Jeff Gibbs, respectively.
In the Western Division, Northampton was hit incredibly hard by graduation losing three district champions and six other starters. Both Allen and Dieruff returned plenty of talent. The Canaries returned seven starters while Dieruff returned District Champ Jon Rushatz along with five other lettermen.
Regular Season Highlights
The season kicked off with easy wins in the Western division for Allen (38-5 over Parkland), Dieruff (42-16 over Emmaus), Northampton (42-5 over Notre Dame) and Slatington (40-16 over Whitehall). In an interesting match, returning District runner-up from Emmaus, Mike Johnson, decisioned Dieruff’s John Piper 7-5.
In the Eastern division, several close results signaled that things may be different this year. Easton jumped out to a 25-6 lead over Nazareth, but allowed the Blue Eagles to close to 28-20. Wilson also opened up a big 22-5 lead, but improving Hellertown used three falls in the last four bouts to close the final result to 27-21. Meanwhile, P-Burg struggled mightly against Southern Lehigh. The Spartans’ Dick Raab downed NJ district champ Jerry Miller by a 3-1 count at 133. After returning district champ Jeff Gibbs scored a 19 second fall at 180, Southern Lehigh led 22-18. The Stateliners’ Al Volk scored a fall at Unlimited over Gene Benner to win the bout for Phillipsburg 23-22. Bethlehem Liberty, considered a pre-season favorite, had the easiest time by defeating Palisades 41-16.
Easton had beaten Pennsbury five years in a row and after Chuck Amato’s pin at 165 were poised to win their sixth as they led 24-16. Pennsbury scored first period pins in the last two matches to end the Rovers’ streak 28-24.
In week 2, Bethlehem Liberty and Wilson locked up in a key Eastern Division bout. Ken Hughes scored a fall at 95 pounds to give the Hurricanes a 5-0 lead. Wilson earned decisions at the next two weights and a draw at 120 and led 8-7. After Bethlehem retook the lead, Wilson’s Jim Purdy, Bing Metz and Bill Lutz strung three decisions together to give the Warriors a 17-10 lead after the 145 bout. Again, the Hurricanes answered back as Ron DeLee and Dave Mucka won by fall to regain the lead a 21-17. Wilson Coach Al Zarbatany bumped regular 180 pounder Gordon Smith up to Heavyweight. Smith’s replacement, Barry Werkheiser scored a close 2-0 decision, and Smith knocked off Ernie Schoenenberger 5-3. The moves paid off, and Wilson had knocked off Bethlehem 23-21. Southern Lehigh and Hellertown battled to the last bout before a Spartan fall clinched a 25-22 victory.
Pennsbury continued their streak of knocking off Lehigh Valley league rivals by beating Allen 22-20.
The next week featured some excellent interdivisional match-ups. Easton built a nice 17-0 lead against Northampton by winning the first four bouts only to falter and see the Kids win four of the next five bouts to close the score to 20-12. Chuck Amato scored an 8-0 decision at 165, and Easton hung on for a 23-20 win. Dieruff visited Bethlehem and had not beaten the Hurricanes in three prior tries. Bethlehem led 6-0 after two bouts, but Dave Halulko and Jon Rushatz both scored falls to lead a Husky resurgence. Dieruff went 6 for 7 to open up a 22-9 lead. Woody Marcks scored a fall over Ernie Schoenenberger to give Coach Larry Fornicola his first win, 27-15, over Jim Harkins’ squad.
Phillipsburg welcomed Allen to a crowd of 1,200 fans and quickly dashed the Canaries hopes by winning six and tieing another of the first nine bouts to build an insurmountable 27-6 lead. Allen won the last three bouts to close the gap to 27-15.
Dieruff remained unbeaten by closing out their pre-holiday schedule with another interdivisional match. The Huskies visited Center Valley. Dick Raab downed John Halisovski 8-4, and Jeff Gibbs decisioned Tom Traud 4-0 in two of the marquee match-ups. Barry Chamberlain, Jon Rushatz and Woody Marcks scored falls for the Huskies on their way to a 31-14 win.
A growing number of Lehigh Valley teams were participating in holiday tournaments. Allen, Dieruff, Emmaus, Northampton and Palisades joined six other teams in challenging host Washington NJ. The hosts won the team championship, but five Lehigh Valley wrestlers won titles. Larry Schuler (Emmaus 103), Dave Wall (Northampton 120), Bob Raines (Allen 127), Chick Miller (Allen 145) and John Piper (Dieruff 154 won a 2-1 decision over Allen’s Bob Pychinka). Also, placing 2nd were Dave Walp (Palisades 103), Tom Free (Palisades 138) and Chuck Johnson (Emmaus 165). Easton advanced six wrestlers into the semi-finals of the Boiling Springs tourney, but was only able to manage a fifth place finish in the final team standings. Chuck Amato won the championship at 165. Ray Ferraro lost a tough 7-6 decision at 112. Marty Seefer (120) and Dennis Montague (127) also finished second.
Bethlehem Liberty rallied to win the last three matches against Easton as Dave Mucka and Bob Check scored solid decisions and Ernie Schoenenberger scored a fall to give the Hurricanes a 27-17 win. Wilson and Phillipsburg both posted wins to remain undefeated in the Eastern division at 3-0.
In the Western division, Allen, Dieruff and Northampton all won their matches to stay tied at 3-0. The Huskies and Kids won easily while the Canaries were tested by the Green Hornets of Emmaus. Allen won five of six bouts in the middleweights book ended by Denny Pychinka’s 3-0 decision and Bob Pychinka’s fall. Emmaus would win two of the final three bouts to close the final gap to 25-17.
On January 10th, Easton visited Wilson and Bethlehem traveled to Phillipsburg in bouts of the old reliables and challengers. The result was a split with one “old reliable” and “one challenger” prevailing. P-Burg prevailed in four and tied two of the first eight bouts. Leading by six points, Coach Thad Turner’s squad appeared to be on pace to earn a repeat of last year’s win that followed seven straight losses to Bethlehem. Ron DeLee won a “controversial” 8-6 decision over Scott Cursi per The Morning Call. This win sparked a four bout win streak by the Hurricanes resulting in a come from behind 22-16 win pulling Liberty and P-Burg into a tie in the division at 3-1.
After Bob Purdy edged Reuben Roberts 5-4 at 103, Wilson led 5-2 and would not trail on the evening. At 112, Ray Ferraro downed Dick Serfass 4-2. After four bouts, the match was tied again at 7-7. Wilson strung together three straight wins including Bing Metz’s fall at 138. After Chuck Amato won by fall at 165 and Erlc Sandt edged Dave Kunsman 9-7, the Rovers had pulled within 21-19. As he had done against Bethlehem, Coach Al Zarbatany again moved Gordon Smith up to Heavyweight with the same result – a fall and a win for Wilson. This time the final score was 27-19, and the Warriors stood alone atop the Eastern division.
Allen, Dieruff and Northampton continued piling up Western division victories as each team moved to 4-0.
In an up and down year, Easton had an “up” night in gaining their first victory ever against Hill School. The Rovers raced out to a 20-0 lead on falls by Don Doll and Reuben Roberts and close wins by Ray Ferraro, Marty Seefer and Denny Montague. Chuck Amato and Eric Sandt got wins up to and although the bouts were split evenly at six wins each, Easton won 26-23.
A number of attractive interdivisional bouts were on tap the following week. Dieruff was looking for its first win ever against Easton. The visiting Rovers would have none of that as they won the first five bouts including wins by Ray Ferraro over Dave Halulko 6-2 at 112 and Denny Montague over John Halovsoski 4-3 at 127 to lead 15-0. Easton’s Chuck Amato dropped to 154 and matched up with John Piper instead of Jon Rushatz. Instead of the Huskies sweeping both bouts, Amato knocked off Piper 5-2 netting Easton at least six net team points. The Rovers road its early lead to a 26-16 victory.
Over in Bethlehem, the boys from Allentown’s west end were faring no better. Rod Apple garnered a fall at 112to help the Hurricanes take a 12-9 lead. Bob Kresge edged Bruce Raines 2-0 at 133, and then Bernie Miller tripped Chick Miller who had dropped to 138 for the first time 2-1. Allen won the next two bouts, but Dave Mucha and Bob Check won two more close decisions 3-1 and 2-1, respectively. Bethlehem Liberty had clinched the match, and the final score was 24-18.
In other bouts, Emmaus only won five of twelve bouts, but three were by fall (Art Tomascheck, Mike Johnson and Bob Althouse) as the Hornets nipped Southern Lehigh 24-23. In another close bout Nazareth got a clinching fall from Jim Herzeg at 165 and held off Notre Dame to triumph 23-21.
On January 24th, defending Western Division champion Northampton was set to challenge Dieruff in the East Side gym. The Huskies had lost close decisions to the Kids in each of their first three match-ups, but this time Coach Larry Fornicola’s team was able to break through. Don Keiper get the home crowd excited with a third period fall on a “stackup). Dave Wall defeated Dave Halulko 5-1 at 120, giving the visitors a brief 8-7 lead. At 127, John Halosvoski got another fall, and the home team would never trail again on the evening. John Rushatz dropped to 145 for the first time all year and used his vaunted front cradle for a first period fall. John Piper followed with a 2-0 win, and Ron Decker earned a 1-1 draw. Woody Marcks and Jim Gontar matched up with the bout on the line and Dieruff leading 25-20. Marcks won 8-3, and the Huskies stayed at the top of the division standings with Allen at 5-0.
In the Eastern Division, Wilson remained undefeated by downing Nazareth 33-20. The Warriors had five falls by Bob Purdy (103), Dick Serfass (112), Bing Metz (138), Barry Werkheiser (154) and Gordon Smith (180). Phillipsburg and Easton matched up before 1,200 fans in the Easton High gym. In a bout that featured three one point decisions and two draws, Pat Russamano and Al Volk won the last two bouts to break a 16-16 tie and deliver a 22-16 win for Coach Thad Turner. P-Burg had never beaten Easton, previously dropping 23 matches in a row.
District 2 power Kinston won its 24th straight bout in defeating Easton 21-18 in a non-league bout. Allen’s Bob Pychinka and Dave Hunter earned falls to lead the Canaries to a 39-8 win over Neshaminy. Finally, Northampton watched as its 11-2 lead evaporate as Hill School won six straight bouts en route to a 31-16 come from behind win in Pottstown.
Week 6 schedule of the divisional match-ups had to bouts, Dieruff at Allen and P-Burg at Wilson which would decide the 1963 divisional titles. The Little Palestra had 1,000 fans on hand who watched the home team jump out to an 8-0 lead as Lew Behringer defeated Doug Keiper 8-4 and Mike Richardson pinned Jim Crawford. It was back and forth over the next six bouts. In key matches, Allen’s Bob Raines and George Jenkins won close decisions over Bill Solt and Aramandus Wassum, respectively. Allen was able to have its studs, Chick Miller and Bob Pychinka avoid matching up against John Rushatz. The moves paid off as Miller won and Pychinka tied John Piper. Rushatz had another first period fall, his 10th fall of the year. After Dave Hunter shut out Ron Decker at 165, Allen led 21-14 with two bouts to go. Ed Greenwalt won over Alf Tretter on a disqualification for unsportsmanlike conductas Allen went on to win 27-17. Coach Larry Fornicola’s squad was still looking for its first win against Allen who now held sole possession of first place in the West.
On the other side of the Lehigh Valley, the Eastern division title was also at stake. In another see-saw battle, Wilson won the first two bouts to lead 6-0 before Phillipsburg won the next three punctuated by Paul Tocivia’s fall at 127 to give the Stateliners an 11-6 lead. Jim Purdy, Bing Metz and Barry Werkheiser continued their winning ways as the Warriors won three of the next four bouts to regain the lead at 15-14. P-Burg’s Scott Corzi won at 165 and then Al Volk dropped to 180, winning 5-1 to move Coach Thad Turner’s team to a 20-15 lead. Once again moving to Heavyweight, Gordon Smith trailed “4-3 with two minutes remaining…and finally with only 20 seconds left, used a body press to flatten Stecker and produce the deadlock as the Wilson Borough crowd of 1,300 roared approvingly” per The Morning Call. Bethlehem Liberty stayed in the mix by downing tough Southern Lehigh 24-12. Wilson held a ½ ‘game’ lead over Bethlehem and full match lead over P-Burg.
Bethlehem Liberty’s solid lightweights allowed them to jump out to a lead against Hill School, but the lead was short lived. Hill School tallied five falls as The Rams rallied to win 34-21. In an interleague battle, Phillipsburg won six of the first seven bouts to build an 18-3 lead. Jon Rushatz tallied another fall at 145 before Gus Russmano nipped John Piper 3-2 at 154. The Huskies trailed 21-8 with only three bouts to go. Gerry Rucio pinned Scott Corzi; Ron Decker edged Stecker 6-5; and Woody Marcks won his 8th in a row with a pin to knot the score at 20-20.
In other interleague competition, Wilson easily beat Emmaus 38-11, and Barry Werkheiser scored a big upset by fall over Mike Johnson at 154. Allen dropped only four bouts in defeating Easton 29-12. Bethlehem won three bouts in a row at 154-165-180 to wrap up a 24-18 win over Northampton.
Heading into the final week, Wilson had not lost a match in its ten previous matches and sported a 5-0-1 divisional record. In addition, the Warrior had five wrestlers with undefeated records.
Wilson easily completed an undefeated season, winning the Eastern league title by handling Palisades 41-12 scoring six falls along the way and finishing 10-0-1 overall. Bethlehem Liberty trailed Nazareth 11-10 after five bouts but came roaring back winning five of the last seven bouts to win 27-19 to take 2nd. Southern Lehigh took an early lead over Easton and never looked back, defeating the Rovers 34-12. Easton finished the season a disappointing 7-7 while the Spartans had their best season ever finishing 9-5.
The Western Division’s final week would find unbeaten Allen (6-0 in the division) facing defending champion, Northampton, (5-1 in the division). After a Mike Richardson fall at 103 over Frank Nickischer, Allen led 8-0. The Kids would win five of the next six bouts, but all by decision, to lead 15-11. The Canary comeback began with Bob Pychinka scoring a fall at 154 followed by two decisions before Hwt. Pete Mair wrapped up the match and division title by pinning Earl Rice to give Coach Glen Smith a 27-15 victory.
The next night, the Dieruff Huskies easily beat Notre Dame 45-6 to finish 6-1 in the Western Division which was good for 2nd place. In addition, the Huskies finished with a very good 10-2-1 overall record. The final divisional standing was as follows:
|Compiled LVL Standings 1962-63||Place||W-L-D|
Once again a divisional qualifications tournament would kick off the post season. In the Eastern division tourney held at Hellertown, Wilson and Nazareth led the way with three top seeded wrestlers each while Easton and Southern Lehigh had two each. In the Western Division, host Allen had four top seeds while Dieruff and Northampton each had three.
After two rounds and one day of action, Bethlehem Liberty was the surprising leader in the Eastern division thanks to six pins. Their 180 pounder Bob Check defeated returning district runner-up Jeff Gibbs from Southern Lehigh 7-4. The Hurricanes advanced five wrestlers, but Wilson moved the most men to the next weekend with six. Other teams and number of advancing wrestlers were: Easton (4), Nazareth (3), Palisades (3), Southern Lehigh (2) and Hellertown (1). Hellertown’s lone winner was John Hari who defeated #2 seeded Scott Bowers of Nazareth 10-4.
Dieruff moved ahead of Allen and Northampton in the team score in front of 1,600 fans at the Little Palestra. The Huskies advanced five men on the way to scoring 15 points on the day. Allen and Northampton each advanced seven wrestlers and tallied 13 and 10 points, respectively. Parkland had three winners and Emmaus had two winners while none of the other teams were able to move any wrestlers on to the next week. The Western division tourney featured many more upsets. Four #1 seeds failed to advance. At 103, previously unbeaten Mike Richardson of Allen was defeated by Parkland’s Ron Snyder by a shocking 18-6 score. Richardson had pinned Snyder in the opening bout of the season. At 112, Northampton’s Dan Schlegel suffered an injury and could not compete. At 138, Allen’s Charles Miller downed Emmaus’ Art Tomascheck 2-0. At Heavyweight, East Stroudsburg’s Bud Stann pinned Parkland’s Tom Bealer. Returning district runner-up Mike Johnson was defeated by Dieruff’s John Piper 8-6 at 154. Dieruff’s Jon Rushatz pinned both his opponents in the first period and has won all his matches this season by fall.
District XI Tournament
With five top seeded wrestlers, Wilson was deemed the favorite by The Morning Call heading into the March 1st district tourney. The Warriors were only able to win three of five semi-final bouts as Bing Metz (138) dropped a decision to Allen’s Charles Miller 6-5, and Barry Werkheiser (154) was upset by Dieruff’s John Piper 4-2. Allen had the most finalists winning four of seven semi-final match-ups while Bethlehem Liberty, Dieruff, Easton and Nazareth each advanced three wrestlers each. Other teams with finalists were: Northampton – 2 and Emmaus, Palisades and Parkland – 1 each. For Palisades and Parkland, it was the first district finalist for each team with Tom Free (138) and Glen Michaels (145), respectively.
Wilson had a much better final round winning all three of its bouts and thus crowning the most individual champions. Joe Martino (98), Bob Purdy (103) and Jim Purdy (133) decisioned opponents from three different schools – Don Doll (Easton), Charles Comegys (Bethlehem) and John Halosovski (Dieruff) on the way to their titles. Ray Ferraro was Easton’s only champ at 112, extending the Rovers’ streak to 16 years in a row with at least one district champ. At 120, defending 112 district champ, Glenn Newhard from Nazareth matched up with Northampton’s tough Dave Wall. Newhard and Wall were tied at 1 after regulation, and after the OT period, Wall was awarded the referee’s decision and district title. Nazareth got their district champ in the next bout as Dave Williamson knocked off Allen’s Bruce Raines 3-0.
Halfway through the championship round, Wilson led a four team race. Allen’s Chick Miller edged Tom Free 2-0 at 138, and then Jon Rushatz picked up fall #17 in a row at 145. A key match in the team race followed with Bob Pychinka defeating Jon Piper 5-1 to clinch the title for the Canaries. Dave Mucka and Bob Check would deliver 5-2 and 5-0 wins, respectively, over Easton’s tough Chuck Amato at 165 and Allen’s Ed Greenawalt at 180. At Heavyweight Jim Gontar from Northampton defeated favored Chip Arduini from Nazareth in overtime 3-3, 3-0.
Allen had delivered Coach Glenn Smith’s fifth (and last) title in eight years in perhaps the most balanced district tournament ever.
Northeast Regional Tournament
For the first time ever the Northeast Regional would be held in the Lehigh Valley as the action took place in Muhlenberg College’s Memorial Hall. Districts 2, 4, 11 and 12 would again be competing. District 11 had a very successful semi-final round winning nine of twelve matches. Wilson had a tough time, only advancing one of their three entrants. Joe Martino and Bob Purdy lost close decisions in the first two weight classes while Jim Purdy won 7-4 at 133.
Districts 11’s struggles in the lower weights continued when Easton’s Ray Ferraro dropped a 4-3 decision to eventual state champion, Keith Taylor of Hughesville. After starting 0-3, the Lehigh Valley contingent would go 9-0 the rest of the afternoon. Dave Wall (Northampton-120), Dale Williamson (Nazareth-127), Jim Purdy, Chick Miller (Allen-138), John Rushatz (Dieruff-145), Bob Pychinka (Allen-154), Dave Mucka (Bethlehem-165), Bob Check (Bethlehem-180) and Jim Gontar (Northampton-Hwt.) all triumphed. Williamson was pushed to an overtime referee’s decision while Rushatz had a first period fall by half nelson.
In the finals, Northampton would win both their bouts. Dave Wall won a close 3-2 decision while Jim Gontar tipped the scales on overall champs in District 11’s favor 6-5 over District 4. Dieruff’s Rushatz had won all 18 of his previous bouts by fall, but Muncy’s Thomas Ott became the first wrestler all year to go the distance dropping a 4-0 decision. Allen’s Pychinka won another close 3-2 decision, and Bethlehem’s Mucka recorded the only fall of the finals for this 19th straight win. District 2 registered the other champion.
PIAA State Tournament
On March 16th, six Lehigh Valley wrestlers continued their quest for a state title. District 11 had high expectations but was only able to win two of six semi-final bouts. The fact that one of the two finalists was not named Jon Rushatz was downright shocking. Rushatz entered the state tourney as the closest thing to a “lock.” Rushatz led Jack Breon of Sugar Valley 4-0 at the end of the first period. “Jon started the second period on top. All week I had told him to make sure he broke down his opponent before throwing his half nelson,” said Dieruff Assistant Coach Dick King. King, who was sitting next to head coach Larry Fornicola matside watched in disbelief as his words proved prophetic. “Jon threw the half from his knees. Breon wing-rolled him, and Jon’s knee got caught between Breon and his own chest. Jon couldn’t move and the ref slapped the mat.” In a split second, a huge upset had taken place. Rushatz, a senior, would not get another chance to win a state title, but would go on to have a very successful career at Lehigh.
Northampton’s Dave Wall (120) and Wilson’s Jim Purdy (133) won one point decisions to advance to the finals. Allen’s Bob Pychinka, Bethlehem’s Dave Mucka (suffering his first loss) and Northampton’s Jim Gontar all dropped semi-final decisions.
The finals saw neither District 11 grappler gain a state title as both Wall and Purdy lost close decisions and had to settle for silver medals. Newport won the unofficial state title with two runners-up.
Phillipsburg Post Season
Dick Lincoln (95) and Carl Bateman (120) won district titles for P-Burg. In the first year of regionals in New Jersey, both grapplers advanced. Dick Lincoln won the Stateliners first state title in four years, and Carl Bateman placed third. Lincoln would be the first of Coach Thad Turner’s eight state champs.